Search this site or the web        powered by FreeFind
  Site search Web search



Boundary Waters named by USA Today as one of the Top Ten Places to Extend the Summer

This article has been provided in partnership with:

Boundary Waters

Sans Souci by Roger Hahn

Without care ... that's what it's been all about for the past 35 years for this group of friends from the Twin Cities. Getting out and being together on the waters of Saganaga Lake. Leaving their cares behind. That's what they call their gathering; their pilgrimage, if you will. Sans Souci... without care.

And they do it with a certain style, and a certain flair, that distinguishes them from most other Boundary Waters visitors. While these gentlemen spent their youth paddling and portaging throughout the Border Country, these days they do it with boats and motors.... and a small mountain of gear.

Bud, the Silver Fox to these his closest of friends, designed and built a special trailer years ago with which to haul this mountain of gear from the shores of Lake Minnetonka to the shores of Saganaga. Each and every item, carefully checked off the master list, goes into its own compartment for its familiar journey up Hwy. 35. Upon arrival the compartments are lifted off the trailer bed and are placed, with practiced precision, into the outfitter's waiting boats.

Butch, with the physique and humorous repertoire of comedian Louie Anderson, supplies the food for this hearty and hungry gang. From his Norseman restaurant west of Minneapolis come the thickest slabs of beef known to man; to be grilled over an open fire some peaceful evening on Englishman's Island, accompanied by sautéed mushrooms, baked potatoes the size of a football, and a six foot salad bar.

Dalton, the poet and chief cook of the group, is also in charge of libations. Drinks, in plastic of course, run the gamut from pre- and post-dinner liqueurs, to the finest dinner wines, and some good old fashioned, ice cold, kegged beer. It is also Dalton's personal responsibility to be sure this group never runs short of Drambuie, the official Sans Souci after dinner drink; a task which he is not allowed to take lightly after coming up short one year.

But, lest you think this group has forgotten their roots along the way, and have no place in your wilderness, witness this poem Dalton penned just a few years ago.


The Sans Souci camp reminds me of a hardware store ... after a tornado. That is not to say it's messy. In fact, quite the contrary, it is clean, tidy, and extremely efficient. However, among its many features you will find a camp chandelier fashioned from an expired plastic beer ball, a golden table candelabra handcrafted from an odd collection of plumbing fixtures, and the ever present BWCA latrine box festooned with privacy tarps and battery powered miniature Christmas lights.

The local Forest Service constabulary visits this camp frequently to keep the party on its toes (and perhaps for the snappy repartee). They are continually amazed by how much these guys love their island retreat and the lengths they go to keep it clean. Not once in 15 years has the group received as much as a warning and their camp is always left cleaner than they found it. And woe to the group using the island before them that leaves their island messy when they depart.

As these guys love to say, "This is a camping trip, not a fishing trip." But fish they do and sometimes, despite their best efforts, they actually catch a few. Now it is true that this generally happens when Bud's adult son, Walter, comes along but it has happened with only the "old guys", too. This is cause for celebration and, should those fish happen to be walleyes, cause for a fish fry! Out come the dress shirts, black bow ties, and linen napkins. Out come the plastic flutes and some sippin' champagne. While they eat like kings every night on Sag they outdo themselves for a fish fry. However, it might be fair to say that there have been some occasional lapses in what they like to call their "annual" fish fry.

Now, lest you get the wrong impression, let it be said that this is indeed a camping trip. And it consists of all that is necessary for a real camping trip: campfires, storytelling, fishing lies, comical mishaps, leaky tents, dirty socks, and constant ribbing among old friends. But it also entails late night, around the campfire, looks back at the lives of its participants; and their successes and failures, weddings and divorces, births and deaths, and, most of all, families and children.

You see, the second generations of their families are invited on the spruced up, spring version of this annual fall outing. Where the kids, now young adults, get to spend some quality time with their Dads and these surrogate "uncles"; fishing, exploring, cooking, and, yes, camping.

As you can see, the name Sans Souci is a bit inaccurate. Because these gentle men do indeed care a great deal. They deeply care about the Boundary Waters. And they want their sons to pay their dues on the portage trails as they did. But they also want to be able to camp with them, Sans Souci style, for many more years to come. And they care deeply about each other and their families. Mostly they care about these carefree weeks together on Sag.

Bud's wife, Christine, put it into words for them last Christmas.

 As you gentle men go a-fishing
 In the ponds of the northern lights
 I feel you are growing closer to God
 In purity wisdom and sight

 You're no longer slaves of your tools this day
 You're as free as the eagles who fly
 To see and feel and smell and taste
 The beauty of His holy art
 No canvas or camera can reply

 Few men have been given this gift of life
 And fewer still want to take it
 It's all for free a gift from God
 And most men want to break it

 Still gentle men like you still give
 Hope to the young behind
 That this jewel will be clothed
 In velvet laws
 And loved by all mankind

Now they will not admit to any of this. Real men, as you already know, don't talk about such things. But they bear witness to these facts, and feelings, by making the pilgrimage twice a year. Without fail... and without care. After all, you see, it really is a camping trip! Sans Souci style...


--article courtesy of

Sharing Treasure Hunters Island

Free Shipping & No Sales Tax on $40 or More!
Your Banner Could be Here